This post will cover how to start affiliate marketing to significantly increase your blogging income. If you’re a business blogger like me, or you’d like to monetize your blog, we’ll discuss the basics of affiliate marketing for beginners.
My blog is almost two years old now. In this year that I’ve been monetizing it, my affiliate earnings are close to $1700 so far (working on it part time). And I’m just getting started. My affiliate income continues to grow a bit each month. Let’s dive in and learn the benefits of affiliate marketing and how to make it work for you.
*This post has affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. See my disclosure here.
What is affiliate marketing and how does it work?
Affiliate marketing is a way of partnering with businesses who sell products that fulfill the needs of your readers. For instance, I partner with many creators of blogging courses, eBooks, and membership sites. Each of them has the potential to help my audience (that’s you!) learn a necessary skill to grow and monetize a successful blog.
Affiliate marketing partnerships benefit bloggers by providing a commission on the sale of the product or service sold. When you match the perfect product with the perfect buyer, fulfilling an actual need they have, it’s a win-win-win for everyone!
The buyer gets what they need, the business makes a sale, and the blogger earns income for the hours they’ve spent working on their site.
Varying your income streams by utilizing affiliate marketing makes very good business sense. Blogging is a REAL job that requires hours and hours of your time, attention, and energy.
It’s also a financial investment if you’re treating it as a serious business. By investing in courses and products that develop your blogging skills, your traffic and income will grow.
Unless you’re a hobby blogger, it makes no sense to spend your time blogging and not earn an income for your efforts.
*Did you know you can supplement your blogging income with freelance writing?? I’m not talking about a little bit of money… becoming a freelance writer can be a full-time income in itself.
Affiliate marketing examples
Affiliate partners come in all sizes and ranges of commission offerings. Many small businesses, including bloggers who sell courses and eBooks, offer a very generous commission scale in the range of 30-45% of each sale.
Businesses such as Amazon, Target, and other huge affiliate networks, may only offer 4-10% commission. However, when added together, affiliate earnings can amount to a very nice income.
Here’s a list of potential affiliate partnerships you could form depending on your niche. This is only a small sampling of possibilities to give you a few ideas of how affiliate marketing works.
**Many of these types of retailers are members of the large affiliate networks we’ll discuss in the next section.
Camping, hiking, or outdoor bloggers
- REI or other upscale outdoor equipment retailers
- Amazon – due to their huge selection of inventory
- Sporting goods stores
- Fishing equipment retailers
- Walmart and Target
- Baby product retailers
- Prenatal nutrition companies
- Baby food companies
- Maternity clothing retailers
- Specialty children’s clothing retailers
- Credit card companies
- Debt consolidation
- Bill Fixers
- Finance apps (Cinch, Hurdlr, etc.)
- Credit report companies
Affiliate Marketing Companies
Now we’ll talk about several large affiliate marketing companies that are great for bloggers to work with. This will only cover the largest affiliate networks, so keep in mind there are many others. You can also Google a company and add “affiliate program” to the end of your search.
In addition to these large networks, I highly recommend reaching out to businesses whose products you use and love, and ask them if they have an affiliate program. I’ve done that numerous times, and they’re some of my favorite products to promote, since I’m already a big fan of their stuff!
Affiliate Marketing Networks to Join:
- ShareASale is an excellent network with over 4,000 merchants for potential partnerships.
- FlexOffers is another huge network that’s over 10 years old with thousands of merchants and hundreds of sub-categories to choose from.
- CJ Affiliate (formerly known as Commission Junction) has hundreds of major retailers in their network.
- Rakuten is a smaller affiliate network but still has around 1,000 partners to work with.
- AWIN is a great network with over 13,000 partners to promote, including Etsy.
- JVZoo is strictly for digital products such as online courses, eBooks, etc.
- Target is an obvious choice due to the thousands of products they carry, but commissions can be small.
- Shopify is the biggest eCommerce platform and pays generously if you refer a customer to set up shop with them.
- Amazon is a no-brainer due to their tens of thousands of products, but their commission percentages are small. If you can grow your blog to high traffic numbers and sell large volumes, it’s very worth it. The good thing about Amazon is they let fairly new bloggers join.
In addition to the above networks, almost any blogging product you use for your business has an affiliate program. So, definitely take advantage of forming partnerships with products, services, and tools you already use.
How to Start Affiliate Marketing
Here are the beginning steps to take with affiliate marketing for beginners, so you can grow your income. For starters, use the list above to find networks with the most relevant retailers for your blog topics and audience. Apply to the ones that are best for you.
Definitely apply to Amazon as soon as you can. They accept many new bloggers, and sell just about everything you can think of. Amazon is one of the top trusted and recognized brands around the world. Most people buy several things at a time on Amazon, all of which you’ll get credit for if they enter with your link!
Once you have a few affiliate partnerships lined up, you’ll want to add affiliate links to your relevant posts. For example, if you’re a food blogger, you can link to awesome kitchen tools (mixers, blenders, etc.) or special ingredients on Amazon in your recipe posts.
Affiliate Marketing Strategy
This post is only meant to be an overview of how affiliate marketing and partnerships work to earn money with your blog. In order to make full-time income with affiliate marketing (which many bloggers do), you’ll need a rock-solid affiliate marketing strategy.
There are many pieces to the puzzle, such as figuring out what products are best suited for your audience, marketing your affiliate links, increasing traffic for more sales, how to boost your affiliate earnings during holidays, etc.
The top-of-the-line in affiliate marketing courses is Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing by Michelle Schroeder-Gardner. It’s the very first blogging course I invested in, and I’ve never regretted it for a second. This course has EVERYTHING you need to know about the subject.
With six modules and 30 lessons, this affiliate marketing strategy course will teach you how to kill it with affiliate marketing. By the way, Michelle lives on a sailboat full time now. She KNOWS her stuff!
Here’s a couple of screenshots from the course page… so you can get a peek at what’s offered.
I think the last line says it perfectly … “If you’re not earning money through affiliate marketing [with your blog], then you are leaving money on the table.”
She’s absolutely right! That’s $1700 I wouldn’t have in my pocket right now if I hadn’t taken the course.
Michelle’s affiliate marketing course leaves no stone unturned. It not only covers the technical parts of how to start affiliate marketing, but she includes a thorough Pinterest guide for making more sales, how to build trust with readers and customers… and a ton more!
It’s worth every penny. If I could afford only one course for monetizing my blog, this would be THE ONE.
Affiliate Marketing for Beginners Concluding Thoughts
I hope by now that you’re super excited to get started with affiliate marketing as a primary source of blogging income while you work on growing your traffic and applying to ad networks in the future.
Though it takes a little work on your part, affiliate marketing income is an amazing way to earn money on a regular basis with your blog. You’ll definitely need a strategy, though. There’s a lot to know as far as how, when, and where to place your links.
That’s where Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing comes in. It’s one of the best investments you’ll make in your business. I promise!
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